Train engineer who caused fatal 2016 Hoboken crash wins job back with NJ Transit

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The NJ Transit engineer who caused the deadly Hoboken train crash of 2016 will soon be back at the helm — on a “one-time, last chance basis” — after winning an appeal in court, a report says.

Thomas Gallagher, who had been suspended and fired in 2018 following a federal investigation, will be allowed to return to work in the train yards, but not passenger service, according to NJ.com.

He was steering a Pascack Valley Line train into the Hoboken Terminal — at twice the posted speed limit — when it slammed into a bumper wall and killed one woman waiting on the platform, while injuring 108 others.

The September 2016 crash was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, which determined that Gallagher was suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and had passed out. A similar incident in January 2017 — involving a Long Island Rail Road train that crashed into the bumper at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn — left 108 people injured.

Thomas Gallagher
Thomas Gallagher© Facebook

Gallagher wound up appealing his suspension and termination, with court records showing that he won in national railroad arbitration court. The decision was confirmed Wednesday by NJ Transit.

“To be clear, the claimant’s return to work is on a one-time, last chance basis, contingent upon his compliance with the terms and conditions of this award,” the court ruled.

A NJ Transit rep said, “While NJ Transit opposed the reinstatement of Mr. Gallagher, we are required to comply with the legal decision made by the arbitrator. Under provisions clearly defined in that decision, NJ TRANSIT can and will restrict his duty to non-passenger trains. The decision lays out rigorous testing and compliance that Mr. Gallagher must adhere to including training and re-certification for operating a locomotive as well as strict medical oversight.”

Gallagher reportedly accepted “full responsibility for his part in the accident” in court and apologized. It’s unclear when he will go back to work exactly.

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